Review By HOMA WOODRUM
In Treasury for all Seasons, Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, selected poems and organized them (with introductory sections and including some of their own pieces) using the progression of a year as their guide, from January through to December. Every page of poetry or song includes painted illustrations by Marjorie Priceman (of Zin! Zin! A Violin fame, a book I discovered via No Time for Flashcards’ list Books Every Family Needs). Priceman’s paintings are bright, inviting, and engaging – a perfect fit for a book of poetry.
I received this book as a free review copy and at almost 200 pages total, which is not a bad thing, it took some time to read through. Many poems I read aloud to my kids but there were some that veg families will want to skip or be ready to discuss. Actually, I think with any survey of traditions, holidays, and seasons such as this, caregivers will know the kids in their lives will have many questions. My daughter was most curious about mentions of hot dogs and fishing in the summer poems and the religious references. Food and memory go together for us all, so helping kids understand that others have different associations with the seasons is valuable though probably more readily understood by children a little older than mine (who are four and two).
I discovered some new (to me) poems I’d like to mention, including “Natural History” by E.B. White, “Nocturne for Late Summer” by Barbara Juster Esbensen, “little tree” by e.e. cummings, and “If We Didn’t Have Birthdays” by Dr. Seuss. I learned from reading “Nocturne for Late Summer” that you can take the number of chirps a cricket emits during a fifteen second period, add 37, and approximate outdoor temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. I liked the imagery in “little tree,” where the narrator is a child addressing his Christmas tree:
who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss your cool bark and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would
only don’t be afraid
Dr. Seuss’ poem posits that if you weren’t you, you might be “three baked potatoes,” among other things, which made me chuckle and E.B. White’s poem manages to make spiders romantic but if you’ve read Charlotte’s Web you wouldn’t be surprised.
I think my favorite experience has been reading poems and songs that aren’t “in season.” It is chilly out but when I read words evoking spring I can almost feel the warm breeze. I think a book of poems such as this would make a lovely family gift but veg families should be aware that there are references in the text and illustrations to fishing, drinking milk, and eating meat (there’s even a poem called “Good Hot Dogs,” for example). There are also poems about death that may not be the best choices for younger children but I can understand why they were included in the “Coming of Age” section. (I loved seeing an abridged version of “Sunrise, Sunset” by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock though!)
As with another poetry collection I’ve reviewed for Vegbooks, I’m more than happy to answer questions about the poems featured in this book. Just let me know in the comments.